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Pistons throttled by Natives

By: Terry Frey

Posted: 03/18/2017 8:14 AM

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The Neepawa Natives bolted out to a 3-0 first period lead as they went on to trounce the Steinbach Pistons 5-1 Friday in Neepawa to tie their Mantioba Junior Hockey League quarter-final series 2-2.

The eighth-ranked Natives took it to the first place Pistons, skating to period leads of 3-1 and 4-1. Braden Purtill scored the lone goal of the game for the Pistons late in the first on the powerplay.

Scoring for the Natives were John McCammon, Ashton Anderson, Brad Marshall, Nick Schultze and a goal and two assists from Skyler Thorsteinson. Defenceman Sam Stewart assisted on three of the Neepawa goals.

For the fourth game in a row the Pistons outshot the Natives by a  considerable margin, this time 38-27, as Tyler Gutenberg was again outstanding for the Natives making 36 saves. Roman Bengert was the losing goaltender.

The pennant-winning Pistons outscored their opponents by a two to one margin during the regular season, but surprisingly, the underdog Natives have outscored the heavily-favoured Pistons 15-10 through the first four games of the series.

Among MJHL playoff scorers, the Pistons do not have one player in the top 20 of scoring while two members of the Natives, Skyler Thorsteinson and Reigan Buchanan lead all scorers.

It's even more surprising when it comes to goaltenders in these playoffs as Roman Bengert sits 10th amoung MJHL goaltenders in the post-season with a 3.25 goals against average and is 11th with an .852 save percentage.

At any rate, tonight the Pistons will attempt to right the ship and get back to the game that made them a formdidable force in the league this year. Game five in the series will be played tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the T.G. Smith Centre in Steinbach.

Game six in the series will be played Monday at 7:30 p.m. in Neepawa. Whoever thought we would be discussing a possibility of gave seven in this series, but it has now entered the conversation. That game would be played Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Steinbach.

Elsewhere in the MJHL playoffs last night: Winkler defeated Virden 3-2 in overtime and Portage blanked Selkirk 3-0, with Winkler and Portage now leading their respective series 3-2. The OCN vs. Winnipeg game was postponed due to weather conditions. OCN leads that series 3-1.

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